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Video Game Actors Say They Don't Get Their Due

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the 100k-isn't-exactly-peanuts dept.

The Almighty Buck 573

Dekortage writes "The New York Times reports today about Michael Hollick, the actor who provided the voice of Niko Bellic in Grand Theft Auto IV. Although the game has made more than $600 million in sales for Rockstar Games, Hollick earns nothing beyond the original $100K he was paid. If this was television, film, or radio, Hollick and the other GTA actors could have made millions by now. Hollick says, 'I don't blame Rockstar. I blame our union for not having the agreements in place to protect the creative people who drive the sales of these games. Yes, the technology is important, but it's the human performances within them that people really connect to, and I hope actors will get more respect for the work they do within those technologies.' Is it time for video game actors to be treated as well as those in other mediums?"

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573 comments

Keep fighting, but be realistic (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503536)

Yes, the technology is important, but it's the human performances within them that people really connect to, and I hope actors will get more respect for the work they do within those technologies.'

I respect the work that these people do, but come on. I think this guy might be stretching it a bit. People don't buy video games for an actor in the same way they go see a movie for an actor in it. It is a completely different medium. Besides, voice actors in video games right now are pioneers. They will have to fight for a while before they get the recognition and money that they expect. Just like Hollywood actors did.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (5, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503564)

What about all of the creative programmers that create the interaction that drives the sales of these video games? What about their millions of dollars?

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (5, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503622)

Exactly, I bet per hour this guy made a ton more than any of the programmers on the team. If this game took three years to make they each could have pulled in 200k I'm sure but how many hours is that? 40 a week? 60 a week? 80 a week at crunch time?

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (5, Insightful)

Cowardly Anonymity (1104529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503764)

Agreed. While in some sense video game voice acting is similar to animated films (especially with all the "ordinary" talk that is on GTA4), it's not exactly the centerpiece of the game. It's the animators, the game designers, and the programmers that create the bulk of the rest of the game, since games are interactive, rather than the almost half-half split that you see in movies: half acting, half animating. So for the amount of work he does and for the part that he plays in the creation of the game, Hollick gets paid pretty well compared to the other people working on it. Maybe actors and programmers could broker a deal that if a game breaks a certain threshold of sales, they would start getting small percentages of the profits above threshold?

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (3, Informative)

Cowardly Anonymity (1104529) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503796)

Hmm...in retrospect my statement about '"ordinary" talk' is confusing. By that I mean the everyday chatter you hear on the streets, the lines Niko yells out when he hits a pedestrian, etc.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (5, Interesting)

rickkas7 (983760) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503996)

The guy made $ 1,050 per day for about 95 days over 15 months to make about $ 100,000. Software developers probably made more than that in 15 months, but they had to work about 325 days. I'm feeling no sympathy.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (4, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503640)

Completely agree. Voice actors are a dime a dozen, but I am surprised there are not more rock star Programmers gaining fame like Carmack. The Programmers are the ones that make the entertainment in this medium and they should get their due and accolades.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (4, Insightful)

b96miata (620163) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503908)

The game industry learned from the past mistakes of film and never let them reach that level.
Also, all due respect to your angry unappreciated programmer 'tude, but frankly they're not.

They're just one piece of a big puzzle. This isn't the 80s when squeezing a few extra polygons on the screen meant the difference between 12 and 40. Most of the type of work that the "rock star" people did back in the day is now handled by Engineers at ATI and NVIDIA, with some finishing touches by the DX team. Lately, with shaders to be written and what not, it's coming back a bit, but on the big console games more times than not they're using an engine that has most of that done already. (if you want to laud someone for the looks of GTA, check the credits for rockstar's ping pong game)

I'd argue modellers/graphic artists are just as important, and on a game like GTAIV, story writers are a big piece of the picture.

They could have had anyone with a decent eastern-european sounding accent and good delivery voice Niko. It's the situations he was in that made the game interesting.


*note: this is coming from someone who makes a living writing software, so I'm not just tearing down people's contributions out of spite for the profession or anything.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504034)

Back when John Carmack gained his fame, entire video games were produced by 3-4 people. It was entirely possible for the bulk of the work to be done by a single person. That is how they gained their fame. They did it all themselves. Now, with the complexity of games, it's impossible to do it all on your own. Therefore, it's impossible for somebody to claim all the credit, and impossible for anybody to become a superstar, just because they worked on a bunch of games. Also, there are no new video game guys, because the old guys are still going strong. Miyamoto, Carmack, Sid Meier, are all still producing games. GTA IV may sell a lot of copies, but it's still not a great game. I'm not sure if anybody will still be playing it 10-20 years from now. It will probably be forgotten about a week after GTA V comes out.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (5, Informative)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503676)

What about all of the creative programmers that create the interaction that drives the sales of these video games? What about their millions of dollars?

Yeah, everybody is entitled to life + 100 years of profit from every piece of work that they do. Thats what I get, don't you?

The thing is that the guy can't say this after the fact. If he wants a cut, then that needs to be in writing before he accepts the job. I mean, $100k is not bad for what I would imagine is a part time job for a while. I don't know the game, so I don't know the scale of his dialog skills in it, but I doubt it was 2,000 hours of work over a year of time (1 FTE in manager speak).

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (4, Insightful)

raddan (519638) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504032)

Not to mention-- even if he gets royalties, it's probably not going to be the same kind of sweet deal that actors get. Video games are different than movies in one important respect: a good movie will continue to sell indefinitely, and this is where royalties really pay off. This is rare for a video game. Even if you want to keep playing the game, you have to deal with obsolescence of the hardware and software. MicroProse's F-19 Stealth Fighter was one of my favorite all-time games. Assuming if I can get it to run correctly in an emulator, forget about hooking up my old Gravis Analog joystick-- I don't even have a port for it on my computer anymore!

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (1)

tero (39203) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503756)

If I could I'd mod you up. Instead I'm going to post a "meetoo"

That "creative artist" is way of line, sure they probably make great things happen with their voices and the game is probably much better product because of that.. but in the end the voice actors are just such a small piece of the cake, so many others deserve to get their millions first.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (4, Insightful)

Fumus (1258966) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503584)

Maybe more gamers are like me. I buy games for their content. Why the hell would I bother to even look up who did some character's voice?
It's the same with films. I don't give a rat's ass about who plays which role. I just watch the damn film and enjoy it or not. I don't even know more than ten actor names. I just don't care enough.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (4, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503684)

Right, the only games where you really connect with the actor playing a character is when the game is based on a movie. And then its annoying when its not played by the same actor.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (3, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503662)

Exactly, you're a (non-singing) voice, get over yourself.

He's bitching about getting paid 100k for speaking lines that he didn't write to begin with into a mike. What a fucking tool.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503672)

People don't buy video games for an actor in the same way they go see a movie for an actor in it.
Yes, but isn't that begging the question? (first correct usage of beg the question! :P) The actors are saying that they aren't getting enough money, but they're also complaining they're not getting enough credit -- they don't highlight the actors the way they do, say, on a movie DVD box.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (3, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503762)

they don't highlight the actors the way they do, say, on a movie DVD box.
Last time I checked, my copy of Shrek 2 had a picture of a two green ogres a donkey and a cat on it, not Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (4, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503766)

If there was a percentage option, most people would look at video games and say "I'll take my money up front, thanks" and be bitter about their poor choice after the project hits paydirt.

He was over-compensated. (4, Funny)

wireloose (759042) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503938)

That first Tauren actor that Blizzard hired only received 3 coppers and a stack of Peacebloom for a snack.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503966)

I would imagine GTA IV would sell millions whether or not he sounds like a douchebag. Now if Tom Cruise acted like a douchebag, should he be entitled to millions? Oh, wait...

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504012)

He had better be careful. Rockstar might just decide to kill him and get their money back.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504084)

I Disagree with this comment. Video game actors deserve their due just as much as any other actor does. I mean, actors doing voice overs still get paid millions of dollars for doing a Disney/Pixar movie don't they? How is that any different than what's being done in the video game industry? Mr. Hollick has a valid point.

Re:Keep fighting, but be realistic (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504106)

Yep, and one also has to keep in mind that the voice actor is only a small part of what makes the character. You also have the artists that designed the character, the artists that created the 3d model, those that animated it, then maybe a stunt guy that did the motion capture for it and then sometimes even a special guy for the lip syncing and facial animation.

$100k sounds like a pretty good pay for just recording the dialog.

That said, I wouldn't mind if all those people involved got a share of the money that gets made, but its not like $100k is a rip off.

$100,000 can go a long way if you use it wisely... (1)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504132)

for example, by always reclaiming your cash from prostitutes by running them down afterwards.

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503540)

""but it's the human performances within them that people really connect to"" .... no, its not.

Re:Wrong (4, Informative)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503588)

With the notable exception of Day of the Tentacle...

Tentacle 1: I don't think you should drink that, it looks bad for you!

Tentacle 2: Nonsense! It makes me feel great! Smarter... it makes me feel like I could... like I could... TAKE ON THE WORLD! (cue ominous organ music)



Then again, I wouldn't have a clue who were the voice actors.

100k... (2, Insightful)

16384 (21672) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503552)

Why should voice actors get a percentage for a few days of work? What about all the programmers, artists and the like that spent 50 or 60 hours per week working on the game? 100k doesn't seem like a meager pay.

Re:100k... (3, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503592)

I wonder if the voice actor thinks that Rockstar wouldn't be able to find someone to do basically the same quality of voice acting for $99,000, or $98,000. Somehow, I think they could.

Of course, it probably wouldn't hurt Rockstar much to take 3 or 4 percent of the profit and split it up among the whole project team. Assume that they have made ~$100 million on those sales and that there are 10,000 people involved (that's probably high) and each person gets a few hundred dollars, which is better than a few hundred pats on the back.

Re:100k... (5, Informative)

Squapper (787068) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503600)

Indeed. I am a senior 3d-artist working in the game industry, and my salary for a game is nowhere near 100k

Re:100k... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503902)

Speaking as a game developer, I wouldn't say no to per-unit royalties either.

It's not going to happen. I don't think it happens in most of the TV and film industry either. Special effects guys are paid an agreed upfront rate. I'm pretty certain the only people that can demand a percentage of gross are the actors, writer and director.

Re:100k... (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503952)

I'm pretty certain the only people that can demand a percentage of gross are the actors, writer and director.

And even then only if they're superstars. Sure, Tom Cruise or someone can probably demand $100mil + percentage, but Jo Bitpart most definitely can't.

because those guys at the end (4, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503972)

of the credits DON'T COUNT.

Amazed people haven't figured it out. These "actors" are the center of the universe, the rarely having completed high school know it alls", the ones who will solve all the worlds problems by jetting there and handing out candy bars"

The people with the grunt work, the programmers, cameramen, gaffers, q&A, and such, well they are just doing a job any chimp could do.

Honestly why should we expect any less of a comment from the likes of this guy? It is quite possible he is good person and generally fun to be around, but the number of these dicksperts that get on the tube and tell us how wonderful they are and how special they are and such and such is beyond number. Hell I take many of their recommendations in the completely opposite fashion...

What's wrong with that? (2, Insightful)

moz13 (673277) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503560)

Did he not agree to the (generous) salary? His union doesn't have the royalty deals Hollywood has had in place for ages, but look how those have turned out: voodoo bookkeeping to try to work around those royalties. And do the game's programmers and artists not deserve a percent of the sales as well? Bleh... I can see a decent argument to be made for profit sharing of a game's sales with the team that made it, but this guy just comes off like an ass.

Re:What's wrong with that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503978)

he comes off poorly because he is well paid for what he does, but he does address a large issue. rockstar is raking it in through the work of programmers, artists, and others, but only the top brass at the company are reaping the rewards. this is an argument for general profit sharing all along the line, from developers to voice actors. if it takes one VA's whining to get bonuses for the people in the trenches writing code, then the net result is a good one.

work is.a mutually benefical arrangement... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503566)

you provide time and a service in return for a pre-negotiated payment.

if he feels he didn't get paid enough, he shouldn't have taken the job. he can't blame the union now. obviously he's so famous he could have gotten work somewhere else and earned more, right?

if he think he wouldn't have gotten the job if he held out for more money, well, that's how it works. if you provide a service that anybody else can provide (reading from a script), then your pay will not approach 7 digits. i can't go to my boss now and ask for 300k/yr, when i can be easily replaced.

subject for the witty cat got your tounge comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503576)

if you dont like the working conditions or renumeration then dont do the job.

taking the dollars from the man and they complaing that your union is at fault is just whineing to me

find another job where you can make 100K in a few months and i am pretty sure it wont come with residuals

Keep the greed contained (5, Insightful)

YojimboJango (978350) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503578)

You were hired to do a job and you got 100k for it. Shut up and be glad you have a job in this economy. It always pissed me off how actors say that they 'deserve' millions on millions of dollars for their 4 hours of work a day. I'd be happy to see this trend not extend into the video game industry.

"creative people"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503582)

On the list of "creative people" involved with a video game, a voice "actor" comes a long way down the list, and contributes nothing to the success or failure of a game.

If Hollick's union wanted to play silly buggers, someone would have to explain to me why I would want to employ a union actor.

Re:"creative people"? (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503726)

If Hollick's union wanted to play silly buggers, someone would have to explain to me why I would want to employ a union actor.

Successful unions usually do all they can to ensure everybody in their fields joins them, and those who don't get no work. I deal with unions all the time and often they are worse than the mafia. In many places, you can't hold a job for long or get promoted if you don't join the union and obey.

In short: if a video game actor's union is created, you quickly won't be able to employ a non-union actor at all.

Re:"creative people"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503790)

or you could hire family and friends

a union could try to dominate but they really wouldnt have any leverage.

Re:"creative people"? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503954)

As game developers, we're already bound that way if we use any Screen Actors Guild members. If you use one, you have to use only SAG talent, or you'll be blacklisted and never get to use any SAG talent ever again.

Unions suck. Please don't get them any deeper into my industry than they already are.

As far as being paid points off the back end goes, if you're not that central to the project, don't expect a slice of the profits.

Re:"creative people"? (0)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504152)

If the unions weren't there, the workers would be worse off at the merciless hands of the studios. There would be no health care or dental care, and you'd be fired for no reason without severance. If a lull occurs in production, you'd be screwed when the bills come. Every week you wouldn't be sure you'd be taken care of.

Without unions the studio's would just hire the cheapest labor they could find, and everyone would lose even more as they undercut each other. Only by cooperating can professionals obtain reasonable pay and benefits.

Just because unions are difficult does not mean they are bad, they like a vaccine, are there to prevent a greater evil.

Sorry but... (4, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503586)

... voice actors don't add that much to a game, the fact that he got 100,000 (more then most people make in a year) for the teeniest amount of work compared to the average worker, is just fucking appalling.

I'd rather give those bonus's to the dev's that actually deserve it who spend 60-70 hours a week, then to some greedy VA, who does jack shit, when compared to the massive engineering that coders and artists and others on the team have to do.

VA's do not add anywhere near the value that the actual team does, they're spoilt and the game industry should not cater to these fucks. I'd rather hire amateur VA's off the street then some hollywood fucktard.

He got more than programmers... (2, Informative)

mario_grgic (515333) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503602)

I would make a bet that he got paid more than the creative developers working 16 hours a day on the game implementation, and developers don't even have a union either.

Arrogant, egotistical, greedy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503606)

If he knew he would get paid 100k beforehand why in the world would he have bothered signing up to do it.

Funnily enough, resources are scarce so not everyone can have what they want. What kind of parents do these people have? Ad hominem arguments are fair game here as it is such a preposterous question. This guy is just an opportunist.

covetousness (2, Insightful)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503626)

Look no further. Hey, a pile o'money, how come it's not mine.

Pot O'Gold - Once in a Lifetime Opportunity (1)

phoneteller (1261402) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503940)

Dear sirs, this may come as an unexpected surprise to you but I recently inherited a large sum of money - $100 billion - from my uncle who works as a Voice Actor for Rockwell. I can share 10% of it with you if you can give me your name, email and ahem, bank account details.

~Son of OLPC owner and underpaid Voice Actor~

SOLID Proof of Global Warming [beewulf.com]

How long does it take? (5, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503628)

How long does it take to do the work? 6 months? A Year? Two to three years?

I'd say that for a year or less of work, 100-grand is good money. If it's more than a year, then depending on the actual work/hours involved, perhaps he should be getting more. However, a million bucks? Maybe big-name actors make this much, but that doesn't automatically entitle video-game actors to the same. Moreover, I'm not really sure how much movie voice-actors make, but that would be a closer comparison.

Sorry bud, but that's the way the industry works. If I write a piece of software for my company which they resell to clients, all I get is my original paycheque (perhaps a bonus if they're feeling generous). Just because some other overpaid smoe is making a million buckazoids or more doesn't automatically entitle you to that type of cash any more than it does me or the various others that work their butts off for a living.

Re:How long does it take? (1)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503876)

Can it really have taken more than a couple of weeks? How many hours of dialogue are there in the game per character?

The main story is something like 40 hours I think (I haven't played it). So maybe there's 10 hours of speech per character. Say 5 takes for each line, maybe he actually works 5 hours a day with overheads. That's 10 days, 2 working weeks.

To be fair, though, acting jobs very often pay more than you'd think because the work is so infrequent. Appearing in one advert can be worth $10,000s for a couple of days work.

Re:How long does it take? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23504116)

6 months? The guy could do all the voicing in a week.

With internet distribution the idea of ongoing royalties is ridiculous and yet buyouts are still priced so that producers favor the standard payment plus royalty option. The market has changed and the whole idea of royalties, points and monkey points needs nixing.

In defense of the big-bucks, sure a junior coder might not earn 100k in a year but a (voice) actor might not get another well paid gig for 18 months. That said, I personally think the level of renumeration is generous enough and it's annoying when people with that earning potential start whining. Afterall, if they don't like it they can try their luck at the 7-11.

How much is enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503650)

I mean, it'd seem to me that $100K sounds like a good deal; it's not that he had worked for more than a year with rockstar.. Even for a full years work over $5K per month should be enough to support your life and family.

I'm guessing the programmers/modelers/artists are in the same position with the sound actors/motion actors etc. But they don't seem to complain as they'll probably make ends meet with what they got and probably even be happy have worked with a ultra-mega-successful project like GTA(4).

To summarize: Enough is enough, if you want shitloads of money you should try investing in companies like Rockstar and Take Two.. Most people don't.

He's being paid what he agreed to. (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503674)

If he wanted more, he should have written it into his contract to get a percentage of the gross/net.

Maybe he can use his leverage to get other voice acting jobs?

Re:He's being paid what he agreed to. (5, Informative)

QuantumPete (1247776) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503786)

Voice actors are unionised. So he can't haggle for his own contract, but he has to agree to one that the industry and unions have worked out previously. If he wants percentages, he'd have to leave the union (and then be fairly unemployable) or get the union to renegotiate its contracts (which I guess is what the whole point of the article is).

You've got to be kidding me... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503686)

Is this guy for real? He wants royalties on a video game that he voice acted for?

Let me get this straight...this no-name actor comes in about halfway into the development of the game, gets a script, gets into a recording studio and records some voice for a period of a few weeks, two months tops, and gets paid $100,000 for it, and now he's complaining that he's not getting royalties for the game?

What about the programmers, artists, and designers who worked at the company for years from beginning to end of the development of this game, and near the end of the development cycle worked every saturday and some sundays, and worked 10-14 hours per day to get the game done in time?

Games are different from movies and TV shows. In film, actors are central to the product, in games, they're secondary, they're flavor that the developers of the game can choose to put in, but don't need in order to sell the game. The people central to video game development are the people who work on making the game itself. If anyone deserves royalties on the game, its these people, because they put in way more effort than a few weeks of reading lines off a sheet of paper.

oh please (1, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503690)

His version of a russian accent is pretty awful. Really listen to it. I really have to wonder why they didn't find someone who actually spoke english as a second language. I think he did well to get 100k.

Re:oh please (1)

jaymz2k4 (790806) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503944)

russian? so you've not actually played GTA IV then. regardless of that, i thought he did a pretty good job. all these people saying 'oh please it was terrible acting anyway', i'd really hate to have to listen to their rendition.

Re:oh please (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503960)

Not russian, serbian. I am serbian. His accent is ok. They need to tone it down otherwise no one understand him!

When your name can... (3, Insightful)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503698)

bring in hundred of thousands in unit game sales with your name then you can whine. Right now, you could sub that voice out with any other and it would not make one difference in sales. For the closest approximation think Mark Hamill who did video cut scenes for the Wing Commander games back in the mid-90s. People bought that game because he was a part of it, he can ask for royalties. If they made another GTA IV with the same Niko character but with a different voice actor would it matter? Heck no because I don't play the game for the voices, I play for the gameplay.

risk vs. reward (2, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503700)

Would this actor have been willing to return the $100K (or more) if the game had lost money?

If someone wants to share in the rewards of a blockbuster products, they need to be willing to share in the losses from flops.

Re:risk vs. reward (1)

roblarky (1103715) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503750)

Better yet, he's probably cut himself out of future considerations with RockStar, with this kind of attitude. Just like working on a project, you want the people to HIRE YOU AGAIN!

Re:risk vs. reward (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504056)

your point is interesting, but this project was hardly a gamble.

If he had held out for more money, they would have found someone else to do the work, which supports his argument of blaming the union.

Personally, I think he should be glowing over the fame and recognition. The 100k is just a sweet bonus!

As others have mentioned, there is waaaaay more talent that went into producing the wonder that is gta4 beyond the voice actors (who are also very talented). It's doubtful that they were paid on the same scale, but they are sure to find recognition as well.

As for movie actors being paid obscenely? I'm voting with my wallet by watching less movies (or waiting for them to be available cheaply) and spending more time with video games. Perhaps if the studios paid the major actors less and reduced the admission price, they'd see less "customer feedback" in terms of piracy. As it is, I'm paying too much for quality low-budget films to sponsor the high-budget crap hollywood stamps out.

I concur (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503728)

I have to agree. Sports stars do what.. play with their balls for a few hours and then treat their public like crap? Movie stars do cocaine. Musicians drive around in gold plated limos. The only real branch of entertainment that doesn't get its due is video games. Seriously though, why should a voice actor for an animated movie get royalties, and then a voice actor for a video game not get anything? They both deserve their due. However, I also think the programmers and everyone else involved deserves some kind of royalty, considering they ALL busted their humps to release a masterpiece such as GTA4.

This is not television, film, or radio (4, Insightful)

Schnapple (262314) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503732)

If this was television, film, or radio, Hollick and the other GTA actors could have made millions by now.
Simple, this is not television, film, or radio. You, as actors, are not what is driving this vehicle. People play these games because they want to play GTA4. If the character was mute and you had to read text (as is the case with a number of other games) the game would feel different but I think it would have sold just as well.

Contrast that to movies or television where people go to see movies and watch television shows because of the actors and actresses involved. People will go to see a movie with Angelina Jolie in it because she's so damn hot and the studios know this so they hire her, and she knows this so she charges $20M.

Now to this guy's credit as near as I can tell he's not saying "I was robbed and deceived", he's just saying "gee, I was the main actor in a game which has made $500M, it would be nice if I had been paid more." With all due respect, you didn't get paid more because you're a nobody. I'm not trying to be mean - but you're not George Clooney, you're someone who did soap operas to this point. You did an excellent job, and you were helped by the "Pixar Effect" of using a high quality but unknown actor to avoid distractions. But you were paid the amount you were because you're an unknown. Heck, you got paid a lot more than the average person does in a year, and I doubt this was the only gig you had. If they ever make a sequel to this game and reuse your character (unlikely, since like the Final Fantasy franchise they change characters and settings entirely from game to game) then renegotiate for more money. But in the meantime, just enjoy the fame and likelihood of getting future work.

What bullshit (4, Insightful)

el_munkie (145510) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503734)

He signed the contract. He knew the terms going into it. He is actually very lucky since voice actors are pretty easy to find and have low standards for compensation. His role in this game will get him all kinds of work he would not have gotten otherwise.

And his voice is not an integral part of the game. Any halfway competent voice actor would have sufficed. The real stars are the programmers and designers.

Re:What bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503912)

Here, here. Nothing is more annoying than someone who agrees to a deal up front then demands more on the back end. You agreed to it dude. Next time, negotiate a deal with royalties. Lesson learned.

Good voice actors are great and all (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503736)

But if I remember correctly this guy got paid something like $1000 for a single day of recording.

Yes, good voice acting does help make a character better, yes it can be a hard job depending on what they need you to do, and yes I'm pretty sure there was a ton of dialog to record for the game.

But he makes just as much money as some folks for 1/3 or even 1/4 of the amount of time actually spent in the "office". He can probably do work on multiple projects too.

Salary + royalties????? (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503806)

Salary + Royalties is a damn JOKE. This should not be happening in ANY industry. I do, however, agree that "royalty" should be an option for payment for services rendered, but it should never come with a salary as well. If anything, that option should come with an *investment* requirement.

ie; if an actor wants to collect royalties for a venture, then they should have to pay to be in it. They should not be getting paid cake and then getting to eat it forever too.

Buck up Michael.... (1)

Hankapobe (1290722) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503808)

Hollywood, unable to come up with original stories, will make a movie version of GTA. You look like the type of guy who'd play the character (I know what you look like thanks to the publicity from this story) and since you're the voice of the character in the game, I think you'd be a shoe in for the lead - for an incredibly high (possibly record breaking) starting pay for a newcomer in films.

I'm posting this assuming you or your agent hasn't thought of all this and your recent media comments aren't just a ploy to get your face recognized for any future casting of said movie.

Another industry watchdog appears, then (1)

xuanyou (896823) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503810)

Game Actors' Industry Assosication of America, otherwise known as GAIAA. After they lobby for exorbitant royalties to be paid to game cinematic actors or voice actors, games start marketing campaigns based on how good-looking (or sounding) their actors are, and they start sueing 15-year olds for copying games. Later, Joe Kucan develops a celebrity syndrome where he joins Scientology and drives a Prius. But on a more serious note, I wonder how much Joe Kucan made from Westwood/EA. He's the most memorable cinematic actor imho.

I want to blame my trade union too... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503822)

You I wrote the module that is critical to out company's product. Total sales of the product over the last 14 years is over 500 million dollars. Apart from the measly 1.4 mill they gave as salary over the 14 yeas for being a software engineer, I didn't get anything else. I want to blame the Software Engineers union for not negotiating better compensation for me.

Wait, whatever trade group I could join as a software engineer does not have the same clout as UAW or USW. And if it did it would have run to ground the software industry as surely as UAW did the auto industry.

Why does this dumb actor, who just recited the lines given to him is more important than the people who scripted those lines, people who provided the content and context that provided entertainment to the user ,feel entitled to a share of the profits? In movies, sports and other such places where the name recognition of the celebrity sells the product, there is a legitimate claim to a share of the profits. If the sales of GTA did not improve just because it was this joker who spoke the lines, he is just another hacker and he deserves a salary not royalty. People who buy my company's product don't buy it because 140Mandak262Jamuna wrote the code. If I have that kind of name recognition, I can demand royalty. Till then I should be satisfied with whatever salary/stock options I can negotiate for me by myself on the strength of my work. And my work is definitely lot more creative and has lot more intellectual property than his voice. But our users buy the product on its merits, not on the name of the author.

Re:I want to blame my trade union too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503852)

feel entitled

No different from any other copyright or patent holder who thinks they can just do something once and profit off of it for as long as it lasts.

Re:I want to blame my trade union too... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504090)

"Why does this dumb actor, who just recited the lines given to him is more important than the people who scripted those lines, people who provided the content and context that provided entertainment to the user ,feel entitled to a share of the profits?"

He's a tool who has no understanding of the game industry, it's obvious, he doesn't understand that his job is practically irrelevant to the sales, he just wants a free ride on the backs of the developers, not unlike what publishers already do to developers.

If he did not like the terms... (4, Interesting)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503824)

... then why did he sign the contract? Had he not heard of all the previous GTAs enough to know that GTA IV would be a huge success?

How about having a good lawyer? (1)

jimmiejaz (264607) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503840)

He signed a contract to do the work, his lawyer (assuming he had one...) should have told him "look, you're getting this amount, nothing more". You can negotiate a contract and get ryalties and residuals and 'points', just like an actor in traditional media.

To: G4from128k "Would this actor have been willing to return the $100K (or more) if the game had lost money?"

Should actors and bands return their pay if the movie or album bomb? So why would he even entertain that idea?

End of the day, Michael Hollick is an idiot for not working with the lawyers for a better deal.

the whole thing is silly (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503844)

That an actor gets $100,000 for voicing a single production, in itself, is silly. That he complains for not getting a LOT MORE for it, is just a pathetic statement on the industry as a whole.

People should be getting paid based on the value of their work. I realize it's a free market and supply and demand and all, and ultimately it's the consumers that are causing this to happen, but I still think it's just lacking in all common sense,.

If the public was not gullible enough to pay so much for something that has so little invested in it, this problem would not exist. Not because the actor was only clearing 100 grand, but that because the software retailer wasn't clearing seven figures, making the actor complain not because he was not paid fairly, but because he didn't receive as big of a cut as he thought he was due.

In summary, if something sells 20,000 units, and you are getting paid $20k for your part in it, if that same something instead sells 100,000 units (with the same investment in production, which I understand is not 1:1 but is CLOSE for software) then the correct response is not for you to get $100k for the exact same work, but instead for the cost of the item to go down relatively.

So he was SURPRISED by its success?!?! (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503858)

This guy was making a sequel to one of the best selling franchises of all time, and he's SHOCKED that's it's made millions and he didn't get a cut of it? If he was so sure about the value of his work, why didn't he demand a percentage up front? I'll tell you why, because he's JUST ANOTHER ACTOR, one of thousands who would have been happy to come in and replace him and do just as good a job as he did.

Take your hundred grand and be happy that you're still not tending bar, buddy.

What about the game's investors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503878)

You know, the ones who actually took some risk?

I mean come on, you signed a contract for a pretty sweet salary, which you would receive regardless of how the game sold. The investors, on the other hand, PAID money out of their own pocket and took a gamble on the game.

If you want to get a large percentage, put your money where your mouth is - invest that $100,000 in the next game that you work for. That way you'll recieve a larger chunk of the payout in the end.

Sour grapes (5, Insightful)

bconway (63464) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503884)

I don't blame Rockstar. I blame our union for not having the agreements in place to protect the creative people who drive the sales of these games.

Have you considered negotiating for yourself? That's what I do when I get a job.

I hope he gets it... (2, Insightful)

mckorr (1274964) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503894)

Then, as a teacher, I can claim residuals on the income of every student who has ever sat in my classroom. I mean hey, they wouldn't be where they are now if not for me! I deserve a percentage of their success! Where did I leave that number for my union rep?

In Pac Man... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503946)

...the guy who did Pac Man's voice only got paid for saying "Wocka" once, and they doubled it up.

</simpsons>

Boo hoo. poor little spoiled brat (5, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#23503964)

Although the game has made more than $600 million in sales for Rockstar Games, Hollick earns nothing beyond the original $100K he was paid.

A hundred thousand fucking dollars for reading out loud? How long did he have to read to earn that hundred thousand dollars? Poor little baby. I work all goddamned year long for half that much. That's twice what my house is worth!

I've never seen a hundred thousand dollars!

How much did the programmers get? I'll bet they didn't get a hundred grand each!

The asshole signed a contract and he was paid what he was offered. If he thinks a hundred grand isn't enough, then he shouldn't do any more video games.

I'm sick of the God damned money worshiping greed today. Hollick can kiss my ass.

actors are waiting tables (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23503968)

Most actors hardly make anything. Only stars big enough to draw their own audience get a big cut of the profit, and such stars simply don't exist in video game acting yet (and it's questionable whether they ever will, since a lot of the "acting" is done by programmers/animators etc.).

Try to negotiate or go on strike, see what happens (1)

PinchDuck (199974) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504008)

If you negotiate residuals or higher fees, then good for you. If you can't, try going on strike. If the work stoppage sticks it to The Man and you get residuals or higher fees, then good for you. If neither tactic works, then you are being paid your market rate and really don't have any recourse other than to find a new job or industry.

Anyone look at his IMDB profile? (1)

Mr3vil (1268850) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504038)

Judging by the fact I can count his roles prior to GTAIV (according to IMDB) on one hand, I think this guy has a massive ego who hasn't a clue as to what drives sales in the video game industry. Ricky Gervais and Katt Williams are more recognizable than this guy. I don't see either of those two gents complaining about their compensation for their work on the game. Newsflash to these nobody actors, gamers really don't care who does the voice work in games so long as their ears don't bleed from it.

130 PER HOUR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23504054)

if you read the article, you'll see that as a voice actor, he made 1050 per DAY

for an average 8 hour day, he made 130 per hour

and i doubt he was working 8 hours on any day

for anyone else with his (tiny) skillset, that's like having to work one day in two weeks

Artie Lange in new Leisure Suit Larry (1)

Gregg M (2076) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504076)

Artie Lange from the Howard Stern show just relieved he recieved 30 grand for an hour and a half of voice acting for the new Leisure Suit Larry. Is that not enough? This guy received 100k for maybe a weeks worth of work.

$600 million + advertising (1)

kylehase (982334) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504082)

According to the summary, $600 million was just in sales. I'm curious how much more money the company made from in-game advertising. [wikipedia.org]

Millions of eyes locked on one spot for hours a day is a marketer's dream. I haven't played games in a while but the last game I played had blatant advertising all over the place. Surely there's millions more to go around.

Perhaps a sign up bonus for GTA V programmers?

Fuck You Michael Hollick (1)

festers (106163) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504086)

You do a job and you get paid. In this case, you voiced-acted some parts in a video game and got paid $100,000, which is double what I make in an entire year of working 40hrs/week. Just because you're an entertainer doesn't mean you somehow get special treatment. Work -> Get Paid -> Work some more -> Get paid some more. It's called living in the "real world", asshole.

They aren't the same thing... (2, Insightful)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504102)

I see one big problem here. Games, unlike say, Victrola music, are more difficult and time consuming to "transfer" to newer technologies. For every Tomb Raider on GameTap there is a System Shock and System Shock 2 (bad examples I know). With so little "roll-over content" what is the purpose of the sending out residual checks on something that probably won't be selling 20 years from now.

I guess my point is that the game business isn't built like the movie or music business and it should be very wary of going the way of the beloved MPAA or RIAA.

VA are awesome (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504112)

Voice actors and actresses are awesome, voice acting is awesome.


I think some of the comments are a interpreting Hollick's statement as a little more desperate than it is.


Some people are saying "Mr. Bellic probably should have read his contract and thought ahead." I'm guessing that he probably did, and was happy to get what he got.


If he didn't like it, then R* probably would have got the omnipresent Cam Clarke to do the voice, and Niko would have sounded like Liquid Snake.

get serious first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23504142)

they can have more money when they start to take voice-acting seriously. Even GTA4 has a lot of moments where the voice-acting makes you want to put your head through the tv.

All about investment (1)

Restil (31903) | more than 5 years ago | (#23504148)

It's likely his union could have negotiated a percentage deal if he really wanted it. The problem with percentage deals is... what exactly is the percentage going to be of? Sales? Profit? Look into Hollywood accounting if you want an idea of how well percentage deals work out for those that work on them. And while I'm sure the chances of GTA4 selling well were good, what would happen if our good friend Mr. Thompson somehow managed to luck out and find a crackpot judge who played the injunction game with Rockstar for a few years? It's certainly a possibility that needs to be considered, and if you're working off royalties, you would have to wait until that all got taken care of before you'd see one cent. What would happen if you did all that work, and two years later Rockstar decided that the game was going to be a bust and just scrapped the project.... I'm sure the fine print of your contract wouldn't allow you to sue for damages in that case.

Believe me, do your work, take the $100k, and hope that the success of the game means you'll be on the top list of candidates for working on future sequels.

Compensation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23504150)

Wow, I can't believe people who make 100k+ are whining about compensation.

Gee, all I did was spit out some lines, and get paid 100k only ONCE!

I'm an engineer, I create chips, should I get paid each time someone uses my companies chips?

Should I get paid each time they get used?

NO!

Stop Whining
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